Unfortunate as it sounds, anyone in the FMCG industry that has made it big will tell you that no matter how good your product is, it will be ignored on the shelf by consumers as they go for a lower quality packaged better that is not necessarily better than yours. This is especially true in the FMCG sector in a market dominated by consumerism. In more advanced markets like the USA and Europe, it is the contents that matter and according to many of the policies, the contents must be correctly described on the packages. In Sub Saharan Africa, consumers barely read the contents of their purchase and that is why rogue product distributors are having a field day in that market.
As an entrepreneur within a product’s value chain, you need to apply simple but effective measures to ensure that you are not railroaded by the more established players or by the unscrupulous who need to make money at any cost.
Herein we evaluate some of these measures:
One of the leading agro-chemical companies in Kenya has been engaging their target market through a radio campaign highlighting about four of their main products. Listening to their marketing person on speaking the local dialect on the localized radio station was both interesting and informative even for one who does not know anything to do with farming and/ or agriculture. The model they have taken is one of educating the farmer about what they are most likely to face with a particular type of crop and then they project themselves as having a solution to these challenges. What was quite interesting was that at the start of the radio show, the presenters poise themselves as small-time farmers with tomatoes in their backyards and they had ready pens and notebooks in the studio. They would ask the company representative to spell the words of the fertilizer or pesticide and by the end of the show, it was easy to imagine a farmer in the rural area feeling very well educated and intending to put into practice the lesson.
While a small-scale business may not have the budget that is required for radio advertising, the take-home lesson is to ensure that any marketing campaign done will be more beneficial for the customer if it encompasses a solution that the customer can take with them anywhere. It is easy to produce a flyer or introduction letter that says, “This is what I have and I am selling it at the price of this, so I want you to buy it”. However, that is less effective than producing a flyer/ brochure which highlights challenges and solutions. Of course, the solutions are tied into your product/ service and the end result is to make the customer realize that you have a solution to their problem. It is against such knowledge that a customer will make a conscious decision to test your offering.
Visibility by others in the value chain
Everyone in business does a competitor analysis. One of the ways to know that you are making an impact in your market is to have the competition list you or your brand among the top 5 that they regard as competition. After the fifth competitor, all other companies fall under the category of ‘others’ (read “insignificant for us”). Besides competition, you must also be visible to likely partners. For instance, if you produce sprayers, you should be on the radar of greenhouse companies. If you are into seeds production, you should be on the radar of agricultural officers.
Visibility allows you to be in the mind of those who influence the end user of your product/ service. Your visibility can be tech-based, or field-based or a combination of both. Carrying out education campaigns, providing free resources, and e-newsletters or use of short message services are viable channels to build this visibility.
One of the leading ways to keep you visible in the value chain is authority positioning. In this, you project/ present yourself as an authority/ expert in your field. You become the go-to person for all questions relating to your field. This is successful as long as you have a relationship of trust and integrity. Associate yourself with other experts and learn from them, identify and participate in different for a where you can share your expertise widely and often. As you do this, your brand should always be in hand for it to be associated with you or your company.
In the world of agriculture, no matter where one is on the value chain, it is not possible to do it all alone. That is why when expos are held, you will find a close link between all the players. You need truckers to transport the produce, you will need exporters to expand the market of the produce, you will need the agro-chemical companies to produce inputs that work with the developing challenges, and you need the water companies and so much more such as the policymakers. Partnerships are the only way that one can get the best out of any value chain and be considered a formidable element to work with.
Value addition to your customers
Customers talk and share their experiences widely. You want to be in the middle of their conversations as a positive subject. A lot of companies encourage their customers to tell others when they make them happy but revert to the company when something does not please them. Despite this, continuous reports tell us more customers tell more people the bad than the good about their experience with a company. Value addition helps deal with some of these issues and what small firms have taken time to realize is that value addition does not have to the big things, it can be the little things such as reminding a customer about the weather patterns or wishing them a happy birthday or alerting them when you have an offer on your products/ service.
Whichever model you have for a business, there is an important element in packaging yourself to stand out and keep your product/ service/ brand relevant to your target market.You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face... You must do the thing you think you cannot do. - ELEANOR ROOSEVELT Click To Tweet